Jessica Gross

Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

“You Must Have Been Hungry!”

In musings, people watching on February 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

My friend from pre-school (oldest friendship!) and I went to dinner at the Bar at Etats-Unis on Saturday. (Side note: delightful, but pricey. I loved my duck salad.) The bartender took a liking to us and gave us a complimentary molten chocolate cake and dessert wine at the end of the meal.

Free chocolate cake? This couldn’t be real. We looked at the cake; we looked at each other. Cake; each other. Cake. We dug in.

This cake oozed molten chocolate. I wanted to jump inside and take a swim. We finished it, scraping the plate.

The bartender came to clear our dishes and gaped at us, the gluttonous mutants, shaking his head. “Remind me not to go up against you,” he said, in mock horror.

I get comments like this at least a third of the times that I go out to eat. (My favorite, at a restaurant in DC last month: “You did such a GOOD job!” It was a sandwich.) My friend is one of the skinnier people I know, and I’m a small girl. Are waiters just baffled that a little person can actually consume food? Or is it that, in looks-conscious cities like New York and DC, it’s unusual to find any female finishing her dish?


Excuse Me, You’re in My Picture

In people watching on February 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

A friend and I stood outside the Cloisters, admiring the sparkly Hudson from our castle. Next to us stood a camera-wielding group of three, also peering over the wall.

Except they were staring at us, not the river. We half-smiled; turned back to the Hudson. They continued to stare. My friend wondered if they wanted us to take their picture.

We continued to look sidelong at each other for some minutes before they told us that we were in the way of their picture. Oh. We walked out of the way.

And, on discovering that the short path led to a dead end, we were forced to relive the awkwardness on our way back.

On a side note, though, if you haven’t been to the Cloisters, go. It’s an offshoot of the Met way up on the West side. The Medieval European art is good, but what’s memorable is the view — an expansive one, since the museum is on a big hill. Memorable, that is, if you can get a picture without two goofs idling in the background.

Only on the UES

In people watching on February 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm

On the Blackberry of the woman sitting next to me on the M86 crosstown bus:

“Oh, I know — I’d (almost) rather do my own taxes than watch that.”

The Difference Between Dogs and People

In people watching on February 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm

You can pet a stranger’s dog. You can’t pet a stranger’s child.

Man in front of me on the bus, who said “Hey, Buddy!” to two frightened children while giving them noogies, I hope you’re reading this.

Spying at the Gym

In people watching on February 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm

On the gym mat at my New York Sports Club, I often end up next to the same guy. He exercises maniacally — I’d estimate three push-ups per second — and wears a black unitard.

In fact, it’s not a coincidence. As he works out, he mutters to himself, and I’m determined to hear what he says. Today, I strained my ears throughout my sit-up routine.

For the first time in months of auditory research, I deciphered part of his monologue:


The Boogie Pole

In people watching on February 5, 2009 at 4:42 pm

You’ve touched a boogie pole.

Last night, my roommate told me a horror story. As she waited for the subway, she saw a guy pick a huge booger out of his nose and wipe it on his pants. She prayed silently that she could squeeze into a part of the car far away from the boogie monster.

Of course, she was shoved right next to him. The only pole within reach was the one he grasped. She determined she’d go hands-free.

He moved his hand and gestured to her, offering her a place on the pole.

Where there’s one metal rod covered in snot, there are thousands. Use this stuff.

Awkward Communications

In musings, people watching on February 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Saturday night, I went to a great bar (King’s Head Tavern, near Union Square — it has shelves full of books and a working fireplace!). It was a birthday party where I knew a small percentage of people, so I was in intro mode.

“Hi, have we met before?” I extended my hand toward a woman who’d just joined my circle.

My friends gaped at me. “That’s the waitress,” one whispered.

The rest of the night, everyone mocked me: “Jess introduced herself to the waitress!” they chortled. But really, what’s so weird about that?

Admittedly, I didn’t realize she was the waitress. But still, doesn’t this say something about social boundaries? If the same woman had attended the party, no one would have commented on my introduction. But because she was serving us, the conversation had to account for some distance between us. It’s a muted, modern-day version of a caste system — only the castes are often more fluid, based on the roles we’re playing in the moment.

Going Stroller-Walking

In people watching on February 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm

On a run in Central Park yesterday afternoon, I spied a woman pushing a stroller. I slowed down to get a good look at her cherubic child.

But there was no child. She was pushing a stroller full of mittens.

Was she practicing for an impending birth? Using the stroller as a walker? Doing a social experiment?

Or did she actually think the mittens were a baby?

Post your ideas in comments.